Why unexploded ordnances pose physical — and environmental — risks

Two unexploded ordnance were fished out of the Charles River in Needham, Massachusetts, this week.

A sweep of the river by the state police bomb squad and a marine dive team didn’t turn up any more munitions.

Beyond the obvious safety risks, the old weapons and ammunition left underwater also present environmental risks, a Northeastern University expert says.

And they used to be put there intentionally.

“Until the 1970s, we were using the ocean to dump things,” says Loretta Fernandez, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern. “We weren’t really thinking about how the compounds in these munitions might get out and start to mix into the water.”

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Marine and Environmental Sciences